The Hatton debate rages on

By Frank Walsh: Every man is born with a burning desire to go beyond our limits. Circumstance dictates how far we are willing to travel to find it. A man that never faces adversity will never know his true potential.

Ricky Hatton was raised on the Hattersley council estate in hyde, greater Manchester. Sale west ABC is where Hatton began his journey. Even as a junior amateur boxer, Hatton displayed the talent and aggressive ring style that would eventually lead to him winning both the WBA junior welterweight and welterweight titles.

An almost 8 year journey through the pro ranks that began on September 10th 1997, against Colin McAuley in the Kingsway leisure centre. Ending with a first round TKO victory, led to one of the greatest night’s in British boxing history.

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June 5th 2005 would be the moment that he propelled himself into the upper echelons of the boxing world. Regarded as a heavy underdog by both boxing critics and fans alike, Hatton defeated one of the world’s top pound for pound fighters in Kostya Tszyu for the ring, and IBF junior welterweight title’s in front of a sold out home crowd. After defeating Carlos Maussa to unify the titles with the WBA junior welterweight title, he was named ring magazine’s 2005 fighter of the year.

Hatton now firmly removed from the eye line of doubt, set his own sights on the most renowned title in boxing, the mythical pound for pound title. And so it was decided that December 8th 2007, would mark judgement day for Hatton. Leading a 20,000 strong British invasion of the MGM grand garden arena, with the familiar sound of ‘blue moon’ performed by the band ‘supra’ signaling Hatton’s arrival for battle.

Undoubtedly, the familiar manner of defeat in the Mayweather bout, and his assault on boxing’s new pound for pound king, Manny Pacquiao in 2009, led to Hatton’s personal life spiraling out of control.

In the months leading up to Hatton’s resurrected boxing career, and return to the ring, doubt will burn brightly in the minds of critics and fans alike. What price will Hatton have to pay for the alcohol and drug abuse, well publicized during his absence from the ring. Then again, this is not the first time Hatton has faced doubt from the boxing fraternity or stood face to face with adversity.

This leaves us with a list of possible opponents available as a viable test for a Hatton return. At 33, three year’s removed from the ring, coupled with a harsh lifestyle whilst away from the limelight, one could assume a return to welterweight seems likely. Rumors had begun circulating of a Ricky Hatton vs Michael Katsidis bout. Katsidis (28-6, 23ko) whom would have been an ideal opponent. Highly regarded with his best days behind him, Katsidis would be stepping up in weight to meet Hatton. Katsidis most recently dropped a 10 round decision to Albert Mensah on ESPN Friday Night Fights in April of this year. Katsidis ring style, heart and naturally an undersized welterweight, presents Hatton with the opportunity of an entertaining, and winnable fight. Carson Jones whom presented a stiff challenge to Kell Brook in July earlier this year, would offer a reasonable test at this stage of Hatton’s comeback.

If Hatton were to struggle against a welterweight that’s seen his better days or, we will have a strong indication of how successful the Hatton comeback will potentially be. A decisive victory would suggest Hatton has some mileage left in the tank. If that were the case, Hatton would likely shift his career into a higher gear and seek out a top 10 ranked welterweight. Perhaps in this scenario, IBO 8th ranked welterweight Jose Lopez, also a natural junior welterweight like Hatton. WBA welterweight champion Pauli Malignaggi, whom took the title from Viacheslav Senchenko on April 29th of this year by technical knockout. Malignaggi having previously been defeated by Hatton, has stated an interest in a Hatton rematch. Both men would present an ideal and interesting match-up.

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Looking into Ricky Hatton’s eye’s at the press conference, when he announced to the boxing world that he would return to the ring, it was clear the fire that had been distinguished previous to the Manny Pacquiao bout three year’s ago, has been reignited and burns brightly.